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How To Write An Undergraduate CV

A curriculum vitae (CV) is considered a comprehensive replacement for a resume in academic and medical careers. Therefore, if you are a college student and you are interested in academia or medicine, you need to know how to write an undergraduate CV.

 When do you use a resume vs. a curriculum vitae (CV)? Are they the same thing? The main differences between the two are purpose, content, and maybe most importantly, length. The resume is usually a short one-page advertisement of your skills, experience, and education.  Resumes are used to get any kind of job or scholarship. The CV, however, is a two or more page comprehensive outline of your educational, academic background as well as teaching, research, and work experience. Your undergraduate CV also includes any awards/honors, publications, presentations, affiliations/memberships, other, and references. The CV is primarily used when applying for fellowships or grants, research positions, international jobs, or medical jobs.

||Read: How do you fill out the works and activities section in your medical school application?||

If you have a PhD, MD or even if you are a graduate/medical student, filling out a CV is usually not very difficult. But as an undergraduate pre-med, you may not have enough experience, skills, or accomplishments to write a traditional CV. This will not be a problem as long as you know how to write an undergraduate CV. The undergraduate CV has elements of a normal CV, but is obviously not as comprehensive. Most employers do not expect undergraduates to have extensive CVs.

||Read: What are the three worst extracurricular activities?||

In order to obtain an undergraduate research position (volunteer or paid), shadowing opportunity, or even some volunteer positions, you need to have a polished CV. An undergraduate CV can vary depending on the person’s experience, skills, and accomplishments. Also keep in mind that whatever experiences or accomplishments you include must be in reverse chronological order with the most recent on top. Below lists the information you would need to include in your CV to make it as competitive and presentable as possible. If you are still in college, you can include important experiences from high school.

1. Personal information



Contact information (phone number, email address)

2. Education

School (Years attended, Example: 2008-2012)


Anticipated Graduation time (Spring 2012)

GPA and/or class ranking

***The two categories above must be on the top of your CV. The next few categories do not necessarily need to go in this order. It is up to you to decide what you want your reader to see first.

3. Research interests 

4. Previous Research Appointments (if any)

Role (Time elapsed, Example: Summer 2010)

Short description

||Read: What are the benefits of undergraduate medical research?||

5. Publications (if any)

6. Presentations (if any)

7. List of Research Skills (if any)

8. Extracurricular Activities

Role (Time elapsed, Example: Summer 2010)

Short description

Include memberships in any clubs, fraternities, charities, community service organizations, religious organizations, or sports teams.

9. Awards/Honors

Award or honor and date given

10. Scholarships/Fellowships

Name of award, amount dispersed and date given

11. List of important classes taken

This is especially important if you are applying for a research position. If you want to do biology research, it is helpful to show what science classes you have taken.

12. Other interests or skills 

13. References (try to list at least three)




Contact information (phone number, email address)

It is acceptable if you do not have some of these categories filled out. For example, if you do not have any publications, do not include the publications headline on your CV. Just leave it omitted. CV formatting varies per person so you can look at some example CVs to see which format you like best. Here is a good CV Example.

Edward Chang

Edward Chang is the Co-founder and Director of Operations of ProspectiveDoctor.com. He graduated from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and is currently a urology resident at the University of Washington. He also attended UCLA as an undergraduate, graduating with a major in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology. If you are interested in contributing to ProspectiveDoctor.com, please contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @EdwardChangMD and Prospective Doctor @ProspectiveDr.

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